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Groundbreaking £120 Million Cambridge Forum Given Go-Ahead

Groundbreaking £120 Million Cambridge Forum Given Go-Ahead

Planning has been granted by Cambridge City Council for The Forum, an innovative £120 million mixed-use medical and education facility on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. The Forum, designed by architects NBBJ, is the product of a pioneering joint venture between John Laing and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUHT).

Consisting of a post-graduate medical education centre, 900-delegate conference centre, 90-bed private hospital, and four-star hotel, The Forum will bring together local, national and international medical professionals, researchers and academics from around the world all focused on the development of life-changing treatments.

The scheme has been privately funded but allows CUHT to retain freehold ownership of the site. Forum Cambridge LLP (a joint venture between John Laing and CUHT) will operate the new building which will contain a Ramsay Health Care UK private hospital and a Crowne Plaza hotel.

Dr Keith McNeil, chief executive of Cambridge University Hospital, comments: ‘Achieving planning permission is a key step in bringing better treatments to patients. It will provide a fantastic opportunity for research professionals and clinicians from Cambridge and around the globe to work closely together on new research and practices in healthcare. The addition of a new post-graduate education centre, hotel and conference centre and other facilities will further cement our reputation as one of the world’s leading medical cities.’

Peter Ward, director of healthcare projects at John Laing and partner in Forum Cambridge LLP, said: ‘We are delighted that the scheme has received approval, and very grateful for all the support we have received from Trust staff, the council and members of the public. By co-locating, co-operating and sharing resources and expertise at the Forum, leading clinicians and academics will be able to work together efficiently and bring significant economic, social and reputational benefits to Cambridge. We now look forward to starting construction of this important project.’

A study of traditional Cambridge architecture provided the elements and materials to develop a building distinct from the others on the Biomedical Campus. The lower public areas of The Forum are open in appearance, whilst the private upper areas are more restrained. The result is a subtly modelled modernist façade wrapping around the building.

The stone aggregate façade resembles local Cambridge stone contrasting with the lightweight glass and steel neighbouring buildings. Its rounded corners and material suggest warmth and its open nature supports an active and engaging streetscape.

The building’s design has been developed in close association with the contractor Laing O’Rourke, utilising their ‘Design for Manufacture and Assembly’ system, which will see the entire structure, mechanical and electrical system and finishes fabricated in a factory and assembled on site, providing the best possible quality of finish, reduced carbon wastage on site and a reduced construction programme.

Jane McElroy, principal at NBBJ, explains: ‘The Forum will provide a central focal point for medical innovation, a place where people come together to talk, share, inspire and learn. This scheme will act as a catalyst encouraging additional investment for the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. With scale, proportions and materiality all based on Cambridge’s historic architecture, it fits sensitively within the context of the city, where traditional craftsmanship meets modern construction.’

Innovative designers and specialists in healthcare, science, education and hospitality design, NBBJ has designed facilities in San Francisco, Louisiana, Boston, Washington, New Orleans, Ohio and Seattle, as well as in South Korea, China and Lebanon. The Cambridge Forum is NBBJ’s fourth facility in Cambridgeshire, having already designed the new Materials Science and Metallurgy building for the University of Cambridge, the European Bioinformatics Institute and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. NBBJ is also the lead architect for the new Royal Liverpool University Hospital, which broke ground in early 2014, and is expected to complete in 2017.